Described, when first
released in 1933, as 'The Eighth Wonder of the World',
'King Kong' must have been as amazing in its time as 'The
Incredibles', 'Shrek', and 'Toy Story' - in terms of
But there was more to 'King Kong' than just the
impressive juxtapositioning of the mighty animated Kong,
and his gently cradling the lovely and fragile Ann
Darrow, played by Fay Wray.
Ultimately, the film is a tragic tale. A giant ape is
taken out of his environment to be put in a freak show in
New York, and, not surprisingly, he goes on the rampage.
Kong identifies with the vulnerability of Ms. Wray, but,
when the authorities see Ms. Wray in Kong's arms they
resort to type. This eventually leads to the famous
ending with airplanes attacking him at the top of the
Empire State Building. So came the famous quote, of
beauty being the real weapon successful against Kong.
Much has been made of the scantily clad Fay as a sex
object, but it could be said that womankind is shown as
something vulnerable, something society should protect.
In the era of Lara Croft, this aspect of the film may
seem dated, but personally, as a man, both the two sides
of the coin - Fay and Lara - appeal.
If Fay Wray is the film's heroine, then Kong himself
still comes over as a heroic, if very tragic, figure, and
if his plight could be seen as an analogy to man's
mistreatment of nature in the '30s, then it's even more
As with anything made decades ago, there will be a number
of things one can pick holes in; for instance, the corny
dialogue, and sometimes the varying sense of proportion
regarding Kong's size, and the fact that Kong defeats
some fearsome dinosaurs too easily.
But, overall, this is a film that endures, and as this
film was made during the Depression, the film appealed
for two major reasons then. Firstly, people at the time
REALLY needed some kind of escapism, and a lot of people
struggling to exist then would have identified and
sympathised with Kong, who, through no real fault of his
own, was crushed by the powers that be, just like a lot
of men and women of that period must have felt.
The ingenious effects work by Willis H. O'Brien mean King
Kong remains one of the most famous characters in film
history, and this was the film which was the first really
successful movie combining actors with an animated figure.
Intriguingly, two directors were given credit for this
film: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and
Cooper also got a writer's credit alongside legendary
writer Edgar Wallace, James Ashmore Creelman, and Ruth
Rather horribly, there was an idea at the time to make
the film using real gorillas fighting real Komodo dragons!
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.